John Schneider, July 7, 2009

NOAA Teacher at Sea
John Schneider
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather 
July 7 – August 8, 2009 

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Kodiak, AK to Dutch Harbor, AK
Date: July 7, 2009

Position 
58º01.18’ N, 153° 29.56’ W  (en route to the Shumagin Islands)

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Weather System: Fog
Barometer: 1019.5
Temperature: 11.8º C
Sea State: 1-2 feet but to increase through the night

Ships in the distance as seen from the Fairweather
Ships in the distance as seen from the Fairweather

Personal Log 

It’s 0610 and at almost exactly 0600 the generator started. The generators (there are 2) on board the Fairweather each put out about 300 kilowatts of electrical power. It’s the electrical power plant that will provide us with electricity for the next 2••• weeks. We’re going to sea in just 4 or 5 hours! I was fortunate to have breakfast with Captain Baird. Focused, professional, likeable, gregarious. He demonstrates characteristics of a fine leader.

Forty-five minutes prior to sailing, the ship’s alarm, fire alarm, watertight doors and PA were all tested. The professionalism of the crew is repeatedly demonstrated and I am in excellent hands. Every crew member has specific duty stations for specific duties.  For docking and undocking the ship, my station is forward on the bow for assisting with line handling.  The dock lines are really big and they are so long that they require several people to manage.  Once again, teamwork, clear communication and coordination were displayed.

You can see how big the lines are when compared to my hand.
You can see how big the lines are when compared to my hand.

Well, my hands are still trembling from the exertion; in the comfort of my cabin I tried on my cold water immersion abandon ship suit (“Gumby suit”.) I wanted to see what was involved before we have an abandon ship drill later on. I sure hope we never need it.  Being somewhat claustrophobic, the notion of being fully enveloped in a neoprene rubber suit with only half of my face showing is not exciting. To make it worse, I had a heck of a time escaping from the suit.  It literally took about 7 or 8 minutes without assistance.  I’ve got to ask if that’s normal or if there are any bigger suits!

Well, it’s 4 hours later and I just finished my safety briefing with Mr. Rice.  Putting the suit on and taking it off are MUCH MUCH easier with assistance and instructions!  I’m now comfortable and capable of donning it easily – but in no means don’t I want to need to! We’ve been under way for about 5 hours now and just completed a fire drill simulating smoke in a cabin aft on C-deck. Once again, well done. Shortly later, that was followed by the Abandon Ship drill. The entire crew had to don their Gumby suits and I was as ready as anyone. The two previous donnings saved me from looking foolish!

Here I am in my immersion suit, also called a “Gumby” suit.
Here I am in my immersion suit, also called a “Gumby” suit.

Almost 1800 hours.  Dinner was: fried chicken, barbequed pork chops with chipotle/sundried tomato glaze, fresh snow peas, cheesy potatoes, salad, and rice pudding with fresh whipped cream and raspberries!!! OMG I don’t want to go home!  The BBQ is on the port side and the smell of dinner cooking just permeated the air.  What a joy!

Animals (or other cool stuff!) Observed Today 

While I was in the safety briefing the bridge spotted a couple whales /   but there will be others! And as I get ready to turn in for the day, brilliant sunlight at 2200 hours!

Questions for You to Investigate 

Without the immersion suit, in 45ºF water, how long would a normal person survive before hypothermia set in?

The mooring lines are a synthetic material less dense than water.  Why is that an advantage?

What do “RADAR,” “SONAR” and “GPS” stand for?

Which animals are whales more closely related to, people or tuna?

Lots of fog on the sea…
Lots of fog on the sea…